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2024 Books – first half

A list and some reviews of the books I’ve read so far in the first half of 2024…

Think and Grow Rich, Napoleon Hill

This book is part motivation, part self-help, part entrepreneur-inspiration. It’s an old book (first published in 1937) with a repetitive style, and an overuse of capitals for emphasis. It’s highly regarded; some people love it. It does admittedly have some interesting points, but some of it is over the top and vapid. I read it quickly.

5/10

 

Emotional Intelligence, Daniel Goleman

I liked this book. But I think I need to read it again to give a proper review.

 

The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, John le Carré

My first le Carré novel. I thoroughly enjoyed. Just what I want from a pre-sleep read. Entertaining, sometimes hard to put down, but not overly taxing. I will for sure read another of his. 

Recommended, if a spy novel sounds appealing.

7/10


Good Sugar, Bad Sugar, Allen Carr

Carr is better known for his “The Easy Way to Stop Smoking” book. This one uses the same “Easyway” method for quitting sugar. It’s not for everyone, but it definitely helped me cut sugar from my diet.

 

Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn

I can understand why this book is popular, but I personally didn’t like it at all. I have an aversion to books or movies that employ a literary device such as “it was all a dream”, and this book does something along those lines (in the form of a fake diary). The plot is ridiculous, including a crime that was supposed to succeed due to intricate and detailed planning, only for the whole back story to change last minute and yet, completely implausibly, the police can find no flaws in the story. The ending seems inconceivable. And perhaps a lesser complaint, but it is supposed to be a narrative from 2 different people, yet the style for each is virtually indistinguishable.

Definitely wasn’t my cup of tea.

3/10.

Chronicles: Volume One, Bob Dylan

There are several books on this list that are perfectly fine books, but that I just didn’t like (Gone Girl, and The Bee Sting). This book is the opposite in that I really enjoyed it but, much like Dylan’s music, it’s likely not for everyone. Long rambling anecdotes, often without a point. But I still somehow found it entertaining. There are some interesting insights into Dylan’s mindset during the peak of his fame too: “I was fantasizing about was a nine-to-five existence, a house on a tree-lined block with a white picket fence, pink roses in the backyard.”, and that “you learn that privacy is something you can sell, but you can’t buy it back.”. It also introduced to me a Dylan album I hadn’t explored before: Oh Mercy.

Recommended, if you’re a Dylan fan.

 

Nearly All the Men in Lagos are Mad, Damilare Kuku

I liked this collection of short stories by Nigerian author Damilare Kuku a lot. Funny, entertaining, easy to pick up and read any time.

7/10

 

The Bee Sting, Paul Murray

This is a well written book. Well developed characters, a decent plot, and everything links together well at the end. And there is some good writing too, such as:

“She smiles her brightest smile over and over a lighthouse blinking into the indifferent ocean”

And some playful Irish turn of phrase, such as:

“The fairies will play a trick on you so your face trades places with your arse’

That being said, I didn’t enjoy this book at all. I sensed in the first few chapters that I wasn’t going to and seriously considered stopping. I probably should have since I found it a slog.

None of the four main characters are particularly likable. Healthy relationships are few and far between in the book. A lot of drama (failing business, failing marriage, bullying, to name but a few), while everyone seems oblivious to anyone else’s problems.

Many reviews for this book are good, and I can see why but it wasn’t for me. Maybe I just need to stop reading drama books though.

 

And with my daughter we read:

  • The BFG, Roald Dahl
  • Charlie the Champion of the World, Roald Dahl

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